We study the effect of inflowing remittances - a major source of capital for many countries - on tax revenues and tax policy. Instrumenting remittances with changes in the oil-price interacted with a country's distance to oil-producing countries, we find that remittances have a large positive effect on VAT revenues, but no effect on income-tax revenues. This suggests that remittances often escape the income tax but can be taxed via consumption. We further show that tax policy is responsive to shocks in incoming remittances; they lead to a decrease in VAT-rates and increase the likelihood for a VAT introduction. We find no evidence for effects of remittances on income-tax rates.
Asatryan, Zareh, Benjamin Bittschi and Philipp Dörrenberg (2017), Remittances and Public Finances: Evidence from Oil-Price Shocks, Journal of Public Economics 155, 122-137. Download